Thursday, April 25, 2013


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I will be having a series of articles from the Adoption Associates. They will be writing mostly about legal issues or smaller issues in adoption. The next one is about Safe Haven. The following articles will be written by Cindy Johnston.

Ordinary People for an Extraordinary Destiny

Relinquishment Issues for Birth Mothers

Relinquishing a child for adoption is a major loss. Every birth parent who relinquishes their child will face some
sort of loss. How that manifests itself depends a great deal on the life experiences of that individual.

Loss and grief in adoption are similar to other kinds of losses. Even in an open adoption, with continued personal
contact, there is a sense of loss. That loss, while not a physical “death” is the loss of a parent-child relationship.
Every person experiences this process differently. There is no right or wrong way to grieve – but the process of
grieving is important or it can be triggered by events even later in life.

Although the following are stages of relinquishment that birth mothers experience, they are not necessarily in the
order of occurrence. It is a guide to help you understand that your reactions are a normal part of the process.

Denial – This is a refusal to accept what has happened, and is a psychological defense against facing the pain
of loss.

Shock – This is the stage where people facing a loss are described as “it hasn't hit her yet.” It is a body's natural
reaction to the emotional event. It numbs you from the pain.

Anger – Some women have a problem expressing anger and therefore do not allow themselves to have this
emotion. But emotions can be very relevant. Anger keeps one attached to their loss and can also help to keep
one from facing the loss.

Guilt- This is the “if only” stage. Whenever we make a major life decision of any kind we usually wonder “what if”
and question the decision or feel guilt.

Depression – This is often thought of as the “sad” time. One might feel listless, uninterested, and even hopeless.

Acceptance - This is where a feeling of peace begins; where you can put the adoption decision into perspective
and place it in your entire life span. It no longer defines who you are but becomes a piece of your life.

The goal after relinquishment is to find a sense of wholeness. Learning to handle the loss in a healthy way by
acknowledging the pain and moving forward. There must be a willingness to recover and to rebuild.

In our many years of experience, have found birth parents become stronger and more sensitive than before
relinquishment. Their loss sensitizes them to other's pain and to their personal crisis.

As C.S. Lewis wrote “Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.” Making an adoption
plan and going through the pain of relinquishment is not ordinary. It is born of great courage, and raw strength.

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